Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ngwempisi Gorge

June 15-17th, 2013

I had what is probably my last stay-cation here in the Kingdom and it was beautiful.  I went with eight other PCVs to Ngwempisi Gorge, which is in the middle of nowhere and it’s stunningly gorgeous (get it hahaha).  We stayed at a community run lodge called Khopho Hut that is literally a rock tree fort.  It is built into the rock cliff face and overlooks the gorge.  The kitchen, and toilet, and shower are completely open so you can enjoy the views while you do everything.  You can even climb up onto the rock rooftop and overlook all that the light touches (which, in fact, is our Kingdom…sorry it was the perfect opportunity for a Lion King reference).  We did some stargazing (those fireflies that got stuck in that big bluish black thing… HA did it again) from up there one night that was unbelievable.

Night one we braaied (BBQ) and spent time chasing rats out of the kitchen.  We had to keep shooing them away from our food before we figured out a way to hang our food up in bags from the ceiling.  Turns out rats really like cake, as it was the only thing they actually ate.  Our one full day at the gorge we had a local guy show us the way to the natural hot springs.  We first climbed across the mountains (I love horizontal hiking), then we got to the top of one mountain and took a rest to look out on the entire gorge, which was just an amazing view.  From then on it was a 1.5 hour vertical climb downhill.  Not so bad, but we knew we would have to go back up it eventually.  We progressed down the mountain landscape from large rock faces and no trees, to fern forest and grass, down into thick forests with large trees, and eventually found the river at the bottom.  Once at the river our guide said we must cross it to get to the hot springs.  So we all undressed as much as we felt comfortable (for our guide it was down to his tighty whities, which were actually blue) and forged the stomach deep river.  We thought well fine, the river is freezing, but we will have the hot springs to warm us.  Yeah the hot springs were a pool deep enough to submerge our feet, but still a nice natural wonder.  We didn’t bask long in the warm pools before having lunch by the river and then making our way back up before it got dark.  I hate vertical hiking, but to be honest I am getting so much better at it here.  We made it up the mountain in two hours and I didn’t feel like I was going to die, but we took lots of breaks.

sunset view from the rock rooftop
The gorge

the gang

the outdoor toilet/shower
We walked home at dusk, enjoyed outdoor showers at sunset, and made dinner.  There really wasn’t much kitchenware at the lodge but we made due, thankful for our Swiss army knives.  We made soup for dinner that we ended up drinking out of mugs as there was no silverware.  This stay-cation was to celebrate my friend Emma’s birthday.  I had received some birthday decoration in a packaged that I recently found under my bed so we decorated the tree house and celebrated with drinks by candlelight. 

After two nights at the gorge we emerged from the middle of nowhere and went into town.  For the first time here I was able to feel like I had gone someplace completely away and didn’t have to leave the country.  It’s a small country so the fact that I found a place like this is nice!  In town the celebration continued with pizza, drinks, a blurry movie at the one and only movie theater and ice cream.  Perfect end to a perfect weekend!

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